The Executive Trustee of the UK’s only dedicated baby hospice is worried that more children’s hospices could be forced to reduce even further their services to families unless there is a significant increase in funding from NHS and Local Government.
Joan Stainsby of Zoe’s Place Baby Hospice, says that the funding issues have now reached crisis point. Over the last three years more than 60% of children’s hospices, including Zoe’s Place, have had to use reserves to cover the shortfall in income.
A couple of weeks ago the NHS England pledged to ring fence funding to children’s hospices by year 2023.
This pledge comes at the same time as Forget me not Children’s Hospice in Bury announced that it had been forced to close, less than 6 months after opening and, despite only operating 3 days a week.
This was the second children’s hospice to announce closure this year, after last month’s announcement that Acorns children’s hospice in Walsall, West Midlands would close in October this year.
Mrs. Stainsby who oversees facilities in Liverpool, Middlesbrough and Coventry said “higher care costs, advances in medical care leading to an increase in demand for our services and a freeze on funding for the past three years are putting enormous pressure on hospices.
“Present funding levels are quite simply not enough. Lack of funding from local government and NHS mean they only provide less than £1m of the £4.2m needed every year by Zoe’s Place to keep all three hospices’ open. This means that our fundraising teams need to raise 75% of our total required funds from members of the public, local communities and businesses.
“We have always had fantastic support from businesses and individuals in each of our respective communities, but it is difficult to keep asking the local communities to go on funding such a vital service indefinitely.”
Earlier this year Zoe’s Place made an appeal for donations to help fund its vital work in providing an essential lifeline to families. The hospices provide palliative, respite and bereavement care to families of babies and children with life-limiting or life-threatening conditions.
Zoe’s Place Liverpool hospice has been forced to close two of its six cots Monday to Friday and Middlesbrough hospice is closing two nights a week both due to lack of funding.
Mrs. Stainsby said:” Whilst we welcome the promise of extra funding from NHS by 2023, more funding is needed now to enable us to sustain the level of services we currently provide.”